Smart Machines & Factories
An insight into the factories of the future
Published:  17 March, 2017

Smart Machines & Factories takes a look at the forthcoming Industry 4.0 Summit & Factories of the Future Expo, (Manchester Central 4-5th April).

With Brexit, President Trump and Leicester City winning the Premier League, it would be a brave person who knows what the future will be. Yet that is what the 4th industrial revolution is expected to bring. The ability to forecast, plan and react to changes in business operations, particularly in manufacturing, where companies will be increasingly expected to adapt quicker than ever to customer’s needs, and to improve operations to increase profitability by the adoption of advanced digital practices.

The Industry 4.0 Summit is a brand new conference that aims to help companies get a better understand of how the digitalisation of manufacturing and the supply chain will have an impact on their business. With case studies of industry 4.0 in practice, as well as talks from experts covering IIoT, factories of the future, cybersecurity, business models this event promises to be a very insightful look to this much talked, some say hyped, topic.

The organisers have managed to attract a line-up of senior speakers from manufacturers (Airbus, Unilever, Bosch, Accolade Wines), software (Cisco, IBM, Dassault Systemes), consultants (McKinsey, Roland Berger), associations (TechUK, Gambica) and leading automation companies (Schneider Electric, Bosch, Siemens, ABB), as well as the Deputy Secretary General of the European Trade union Confederation who will be looking at human-centered production.

Alongside the Summit, is the free-to-attend Factories of the Future Expo, where visitors will be able to see technologies & solutions to allow them to improve their businesses, and to see and learn from industry experts and associations who are at hand to assist.

Innovate UK are one of the associate sponsors and they have got behind this event as they see it as a perfect way to interact with UK companies who have heard a lot about industry 4.0 and the need to digitalise. With partners HVM Catapult & Knowledge Transfer Network, they will offer one-on-one advice & consultation to visitors on how to get access to finance and get their businesses 4.0 ready.

Visitors to the exhibition will also be able to sit-in on presentations from leading experts on industry 4.0 such as Alan Conn, MD, B&R Automation; Simon Goodwin, MD, Weidmueller; Steve Wilkinson, CTO, CimLogic, Cathie Steel, CBO, K3 Syspro & Andrew Steele, MD, Forcam.

The Digital Catapult will also be running a ‘Hack & Pitch’ event, which will challenge SMEs to identify innovative solutions that can positively disrupt the UK’s manufacturing industry. All perfectly legal we assure you.

For the first time in the UK, the event’s organiser says visitors will b able to see Bosch Rexroth’s Industry 4.0 demonstrator, to highlight what Industry 4.0 looks like in action – connecting humans and machines to provide new potential for productivity, quality and efficiency.

The Industry 4.0 demonstration unit comprises three automatic and two manual stations, creating a networked mini assembly line. The unit displays the data collection procedure while the product automatically steers itself through the stations. Meanwhile digital assistance systems help guide employees through step-by-step processes.

Andrew Minturn, business development and strategic product manager, at Bosch Rexroth, says: “Industry 4.0 is no longer just a concept and our Industry 4.0 demonstrator helps users to see what can be achieved. The Industry 4.0 Summit and Factories of the Future EXPO is the perfect platform to unveil our Industry 4.0 demonstrator, inspiring visitors to look towards the future, and harness Industry 4.0 technologies.”

Schneider Electric’s experts will be demonstrating how IIoT technology can be used to develop businesses by improving energy efficiency and optimising productivity. Its Zone President, Tanuja Randery will also be delivering the Summit’s keynote speech.

Balluff will have numerous demo displays, including its Flexlink (a conveyor belt of a modern day factory, demonstrating a huge variety of sensors and products in action.) They will also be bringing a long their brand new 'Safety Over IO-Link' demo case. Balluff is the first in the world to offer equipment manufacturers a simple-to-integrate, cost-saving solution based on IO-Link.

Event organiser Gary Gilmour commented: “The aim of the event is to educate & collaborate. The summit promises to be a great place for delegates to see the sharp end of 4.0, companies putting it into practice and business models to enable them to adapt. For those companies visiting the exhibition they can come and see the companies with the solutions to help them get 4.0 ready and plan for the next 10 years of operations. Innovate UK will be on hand to offer practical assistance, and visitors can sit in at the mini-theatre and learn about 4.0 from experts.”

With recent events impacting on the economic outlook the organisers have put together a very interesting conclusion to the summit hosted by McKinsey & Co. The idea is to have an open debate that will look at Brexit, from domestic & European viewpoints, the future of IIoT, and the outlook for manufacturing. Speakers include Ian Funnell, MD of ABB UK, Colin Shaw, head of operations at McKinsey & Co. and the heads of the industry 4.0 initiatives from The Netherlands & Austria.

Gilmour concludes by saying: “We’ve worked very hard to bring all the components of 4.0 to this show, with a great mixture of exhibitors and a world-class line-up of speakers, and we’re sure that visitors to the events will not have a wasted journey. We look forward to welcoming visitors to the 4th industrial revolution in Manchester in April. ”

A selection of exhibitors:


Bosch Rexroth







Innovate UK


K3 Syspro

Kerrco Automation

Mitsubishi Electric



Red Lion

Rockwell Automation



Schneider Electric

TDM Systems



For the full exhibitor list and further information please visit: